Where is Paolo Macchiarini now? Subject of Netflix's Bad Surgeon
The surgeon is the focus of a new Netflix documentary.
If, like us, you've already binged all three episodes of Netflix's documentary, Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife you probably have a lot of questions, including where the thoracic surgeon Paolo Macchiarini is now.
Macchiarini set out to revolutionise regenerative medicine with his synthetic trachea transplants using stem cells. However, seven out of the eight patients who received one of Paolo's synergic trachea transplants later died.
The documentary examines Macchiarini's private life and how his former fiancée, Benita Alexander, went on to expose him and fight for justice.
Described as "the biggest conman in medical history", Benita questioned: "Was this guy a superhero, a super surgeon and the love of my life? Or was he a dangerous conman and a killer?"
But where is Paolo Macchiarini? Read on for everything you need to know about the disgraced surgeon.
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Who is Paolo Macchiarini?
Paolo Macchiarini is a thoracic surgeon and former regenerative medicine researcher who has been convicted of research-related crimes in Italy and Sweden.
He became well-known in 2008, when he created a new airway for a young woman in Barcelona by chemically stripping away the cells of a windpipe taken from a deceased donor and then seeding the bare scaffold with stem cells from the woman's bone marrow.
This proved to be a success and it was declared a medical breakthrough. By 2011, Macchiarini was working in Sweden at one of the world's most prestigious medical universities.
He performed the surgery in multiple countries and claimed to be friends with some of the most famous people in the world.
Macchiarini was previously considered a pioneer in his field, however the surgeon has been accused of unethically performing experimental surgeries, even on healthy patients, which resulted in fatalities for seven of the eight patients who received one of his synergic trachea transplants.
What is Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife about?
Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife follows the rise and fall of Paolo Macchiarini, who rose to fame with his revolutionary regenerative surgeries.
However, it soon became apparent that Macchiarini was a manipulator whose fiancée was left shattered by his deception.
"His nickname was 'the super surgeon' and he was adored and adulated," says Benita in the trailer. "Everybody was fooled by this man. I was engaged to a monster."
As per the synopsis, the "extraordinary" three-part series tells the story of "super surgeon" Paolo Macchiarini.
It continues: "Paolo was globally lauded for creating the world’s first plastic organs. Now accused of being a fraud and a fantasist. Featuring the courageous families of his victims, his former fiancée and colleagues turned whistleblowers - including exclusive access to some - and never before heard revelations, this series follows the unrelenting fight to bring Macchiarini to justice."
The series includes testimonies from his victims' families, former colleagues and those who worked together to bring him to justice.
Where is Paolo Macchiarini now?
In 2016, Swedish police began an investigation into whether Macchiarini committed involuntary manslaughter.
After a one-year investigation, the Swedish Prosecution Authority found Macchiarini negligent in four of the five cases investigated, due to the use of devices and procedures not supported by evidence. However, they found that a crime couldn't be proven because the patients may have died under any other treatment given.
"We have not been able to prove that there would have been a better result with another (medical) method," public prosecutor Jennie Nordin told a news conference (as per Reuters).
In 2019, Macchiarini was sentenced to 16 months in prison for abuse of office and forging documents, but was later acquitted of all charges by the Supreme Court.
The following year, an unnamed surgeon was indicted on charges of aggravated assault, with it being reported at the time it was Macchiarini who had been indicted.
Mikael Björk, director of Public Prosecution in Sweden, said he had received new evidence and interviewed individuals in five different countries.
Macchiarini, who has denied wrongdoing, was then convicted of causing bodily harm, but not assault, and received a suspended sentenced in June 2022.
One year later, his sentence was increased to two years and six months, after being found guilty of gross assault against three of his former patients.
As of 2023, Macchiarini has had 11 of his research papers retracted. Four have received an expression of concern and three others have been corrected.